Thursday, January 06, 2011
A Year with Chickens
It seems like yesterday they were just cute little chicks. I was able to fit all 3 in my hand at once! Raising them in the house was an interesting experience, I'm not sure if I'll repeat it or not this spring when I add to our little flock. Being able to see them grow every day was amazing, but they need a lot of care and the house is empty most of the day.
Eventually they were large enough that we definitely didn't want them in the house. Man they poop a lot! But they still liked to wander in when the weather was warm enough for me to leave the back door open. We'd named them Zizou, Oksana and Sarah.
I was pretty excited when the first egg finally came! It was brown and warm and perfect. Hearing the hens lay for the first time was an eye opening experience, I'd thought they were being attacked!
I could hardly wait to eat that first egg. When I cracked it open I saw it was a double yolk! I considered that lucky. Even if both of them barely added up to one of my grocery store eggs, the yolks were a much brighter shade of orange. You can see the comparison above. They were delicious!
The chickens even played a part in the scavenger hunt this year. We got points for "picture with a barnyard animal." Thanks to Sarah!
Unfortunately it wasn't all rosy pictures and fresh eggs. We lost Oksana, the one I named, to a raccoon attack late at night a few months ago. They took her right out of her coop, after a heavy rain the boards were loosened, they pried them open with their tiny hands and pulled her out. It was a shock to wake up in the morning to a trail of feathers and 2 confused chickens. Eventually the neighbors let us know they'd found her in their yard. The raccoons had drained her blood but left her mostly intact. I thanked her for her short life with us, shed a few tears and let her go.
I definitely felt I had fallen down on my part of the bargain. We had a tacit agreement that she would provide me with eggs and entertainment while I would feed her and keep her from harm. With that in mind we began construction of a bigger, better, hopefully more raccoon-proof coop. As a birthday present to me I was able to get my Dad and Jesse to pitch in.
It took awhile, as none of us are particularly handy. Dad had all the power tools and kept mysteriously taking them home with him, making it slow going on our end without him. But it's done and it's huge! I don't feel like this picture even does it justice, but I insisted Jesse be in it to demonstrate scale. We call it the chicken Palace. Come Spring we hope to add three chickens or so to the ladies. A proper flock with more eggs please!